Community Associations

The recently enacted Radburn statute changes how Community Association elections are conducted in New Jersey, impacting thousands of common interest communities. Community Associations in New Jersey must comply with the Radburn statute and potentially revise their voting systems and update their policies and procedures to comply with relevant law.

A key section in the Radburn statute provides that Community Associations shall not prevent electronic voting where the Community Association Board authorizes electronic voting and an Association member (or voting-eligible tenant) consents to voting electronically. Thus, while the Radburn statute allows electronic voting, implementing an electronic voting system requires the approval and authorization of the Association Board and the individual homeowner’s consent.

Continue Reading Should Your Community Association Be Concerned About Voter Fraud?

Community Association Board of Directors Powers:

As is well understood, Community Association Boards are elected to manage the property, affairs, and business of the Association. The Board has the power to enforce obligations of the unit owners and do what is necessary and proper for the management of the community. This includes enforcing the Association’s Governing Documents. If a violation occurs, the Board generally has the power to assess penalties.

Typical violations concern parking issues, storage of property in common areas, failure to comply with fireplace and dryer vent cleaning requirements, violation of pet restrictions, and similar issues.

Continue Reading Addressing Harassment Issues in Community Associations

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). PREDFDA governs homeowners associations, condominium associations, and co-ops. The new PREDFDA provisions apply to trustee elections and certain by-laws amendment procedures. They also permit an association’s board of trustees to amend the association’s by-laws without a vote of the unit owners. This may be very helpful to an association that needs by-laws amendments to operate more efficiently but cannot get apathetic unit owners to vote. There are two circumstances in which a community association board may amend the by-laws without the majority vote or procedures required by the by-laws: Continue Reading A Board of Trustees May Now Amend the By-Laws Without a Vote of the Unit Owners

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). While the new law was created in reaction to litigation involving a community called the Radburn Association, which lacked by-laws that mandated fair and open trustee elections, it also includes provisions relating to amendments of the by-laws which will apply to all community associations. Here is what you should know about these by-laws amendment provisions which are effective immediately: Continue Reading New By-Laws Amendment Procedures Mandated by PREDFDA

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). While primarily governing the development of community associations (homeowners associations, condominium associations, and co-ops) PREDFDA also has many requirements relating to their operation and governance. The new amendments to PREDFDA were created in reaction to litigation involving a community called the Radburn Association, which lacked by-laws that mandated fair and open trustee elections. However, the amendments will also apply to community associations which do have by-laws with seemingly-sufficient election procedures, and that may be a surprise to many community association board members and managers. A few of these important provisions which relate to board elections are summarized below. Continue Reading New Trustee Election Procedures Mandated by PREDFDA

Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill that changes how elections in Fair Lawn’s Radburn neighborhood are run — which will impact the approximately 7,000 common interest communities in New Jersey. The so-called “Radburn Bill” changes how residents are elected to Radburn’s board of trustees.

Radburn is one of the oldest planned real estate developments (PREDs) in the United States. There are approximately 3,100 people residing in Radburn. The development includes 469 single-family homes, 48 townhouses, 30 two-family houses and a 93-unit apartment complex. Radburn was created in 1929 as a “Town for the Motor Age,” and includes 18 acres of parks, a shopping plaza, and an elementary school. In Radburn, founders attempted to create a self-sufficient community.

Continue Reading Are Free Elections Guaranteed in New Jersey’s Planned Communities?

On June 6, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a foreclosing mortgagee is not liable for unpaid condominium maintenance fees simply because it winterized the unit and changed the locks.

In the published decision Woodlands Community Association Inc. v. Mitchell, the Appellate Division reversed a trial court verdict in favor of the condominium association. The three-judge panel went onto offer guidance as to what specifically constitutes a “mortgagee in possession” of a property, a determination the judges noted required a case-by-case approach.

In this case, the lender’s assignee, defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC, took possession of a condominium unit when the owner/mortgagor defaulted on the loan. It then winterized the unit and changed the locks. The unit owner also owed the condominium association for unpaid monthly fees and other condominium assessments. The condominium association instituted an action against the owner to recover the unpaid fees. Thereafter, the association amended its complaint to include defendant, alleging that the lender’s assignee was responsible for the association fees as it was in possession of the property.

The trial court found in favor of the association, determining that defendant was a mortgagee in possession, and therefore, liable for the maintenance fees. The trial judge reasoned that defendant held the keys, and no one else could gain possession of the property without its consent. This, the trial court held, constituted exclusive control, giving defendant the status of mortgagee in possession.

On appeal, defendant argued that changing the locks and winterizing the condominium unit did not render it a mortgagee in possession of the property.

The actions of a mortgagee determine whether possession and management of the premises have been undertaken by it. After considering case law addressing the definition of a “mortgagee in possession,” the appellate panel assessed “whether defendant exercised the necessary level of control and management over the property to deem it a mortgagee in possession.”

The panel found that the minimal efforts taken by defendant to secure its interest in the mortgaged property were not sufficient to convert it into a mortgagee in possession. Thus, defendant was not liable to the condominium association for the unpaid fees.

The panel explained that where a mortgagee has not occupied the unit, is not collecting rents or any other profits, nor making repairs, it will not be considered a “mortgagee in possession” responsible for paying condominium fees and dues. Winterizing the property and changing the locks is not the “equivalent of the multitude of actions and responsibilities undertaken by” a mortgagee in possession.

Drones are the latest craze to hit the market and chances are someone in your community has a drone, or your community deals with a vendor that uses drones. Drones are small, unmanned aircraft that respond to the commands of a remote operator or follow a pre-programmed trajectory. They are technically known as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “UAVs”. Initially developed by the military, drones are now available to the general public and are used by many businesses and individuals alike. drone in sky As drone technology develops and evolves, it is important for your Community Association’s rules to develop and evolve to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents. Continue Reading Can Community Associations Regulate the Use of Drones?

A New Jersey Chancery Court was called upon to rule whether the filing of a foreclosure complaint by a condominium association prevents the association from taking other actions to enforce its rules and regulations as they would apply to the defendant in the foreclosure action.

Specifically, a condominium association had started a foreclosure action against an owner, seeking to foreclose its liens. During the pendency of the foreclosure case, the Association decided to enforce its parking revocation policy, as set forth in the association’s Governing Documents. It sought to revoke parking privileges of the owner because of the substantial arrears.

Continue Reading Does a Foreclosure Complaint Prevent a Community Association from Enforcing Rules and Regulations?

The New Jersey state Senate passed the bill 181, authored by Senator Christopher Bateman(Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset), by a vote of 35-0 on January 23, 2017.

The bill, if passed by the Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, will render void and unenforceable any indemnification/hold harmless language in a contract with a snowplow vendor. This bill will not apply to the State or any municipal government.

Passage of New Jersey Senate bill 181 will have dire consequences for community associations. Continue Reading NJ S181-Act Concerning Snowplow/De-Icing Service Contracts in Community Associations